The Earth is located between two quite interesting planets, one which has a poisonous atmosphere, and another having barely any atmosphere at all. Even though both Venus and Mars are different from the flourishing conditions on Earth, they can both teach us about the formation and evolution of our planet.
Let’s rewind 4.6 billion years, the moment in which all the planets were created from the same swirling cloud of dust and gas with a shining star at the heart of the Universe. Slowly, but steadily, the material managed to accumulate into the shape of boulders with the help of gravity, creating planet-sized entities. The icy planets could only survive far away from the Sun, while the rocky ones were capable of facing its heat, and the leftovers made asteroids and comets.
Venus… the Earth’s evil twin
With its thick, noxious atmosphere, the temperatures on Venus can get as high as 470C, regardless of its size, similar to the Earth. Given the fact that its atmosphere is so dense, Venus is even hotter than Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. Therefore, it is capable of destroying the surface of any spacecraft that tries to land on its surface.
Mars and the global freezing
The other extreme is represented by Mars, whose atmosphere is mostly composed of carbon dioxide. However, it is hard to say that the Red Planet has any atmosphere at all since its total mass is around only 1% of the on Earth.
The middle point between these two extremes
Even though both Venus and Mars started with the same ingredients, they also suffered catastrophic climate events causing their impossibility to hold water. The Earth is positioned in the middle of them, and it became the “Goldilocks” planet with the perfect conditions to support life.
According to scientists, it is of the utmost importance to understand the evolution of these two planets to make forecasts of the upcoming major events on the Earth and to assess their risks.